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The UK has recorded 30,597 new COVID cases and a further 201 coronavirus-related deaths, with the number of coronavirus patients in hospital over 8,000 for the seventh day in a row.

The total number of people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK currently stands at 8,340 – it has been over 8,000 for eight of the past nine days.

Before this, the last time figures surpassed the 8,000 mark was in early March.

At this time last year, there was a total of 1,066 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the UK.

The number of patients in mechanical ventilation beds currently stands at 1,060 – the figure has been over 1,000 every day since the last day of August. Before this, the last time the number was as high was in mid-March.

The cases and deaths figures compare with the 26,628 infections and 185 fatalities recorded yesterday and the 38,975 infections and 191 fatalities recorded this time last week.

It is the highest number of deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test since 7 September when 209 were announced.

Meanwhile, another 21,478 people had their first coronavirus vaccine dose on Tuesday, taking the total to 48,480,178.

A further 61,627 people had their second dose, taking the total of fully vaccinated people in the UK to 44,170,373.

The latest data shows 134,647 people have died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, and there have been 7,312,683 lab-confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic last year.

Earlier on Wednesday, a World Health Organization (WHO) special envoy on coronavirus told Sky News the government must be prepared to move quickly from "Plan A to Plan B" in order to curb infections should they rise rapidly

Professor David Nabarro said: "Speed is of the essence. We’ve been through this before and we know, as a result of past experience, that acting quickly and acting quite robustly is the way you get on top of this virus, then life can go on."

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The government’s Plan A consists of a booster jabs campaign which will begin next week, and guidance that people meet outdoors or open windows if inside.

People will also be advised to wear a face mask in crowded and enclosed places, wash their hands frequently and use the NHS COVID-19 app.

Plan B could include vaccine passports, compulsory masks and working from home guidance.

Later this week, the UK’s travel list will be updated with Jamaica among the countries in danger of being moved to the red list.

© Sky News 2021